Luke Andersen – It Is Not Empty: A Short Documentary Series




Creative Brief and Introduction


It Is Not Empty is a video series on YouTube dedicated to exploring the history of science. While this may include explorations of familiar stories, the goal of It Is Not Empty is to share incredible stories about science and scientists that some may have never heard. Stories about scientists outside of the western world,  about female scientists, or about scientific rivalries that led to great discoveries. These stories will range from modern to ancient.

I will create a logo and YouTube channel for the series, as well as a blog. My goal is to create a selection of four highly produced, well researched videos. Each video will be roughly 5 minutes long.

Creating each video will require a series of steps. I will begin by identifying and researching the topic I will cover in that week’s video. I will write the script for the video’s voice over. I will then create a shot list using a two-column script format. I will include archival footage, audio, and images related to the script. I will capture B-Roll related to the story whenever possible, and always include footage of myself introducing the topic to the viewer. I will create an intro in After Effects and use a variety of After Effects graphics throughout the videos to highlight different aspects of the story. Finally, I will complete all editing and upload to YouTube.


  • Create 4 3-5 minute documentaries. Highly researched. Each focusing on the life or experiences of lesser-known scientists throughout history.

  • Use archival footage and voice over to effectively communicate the accomplishments and lives of each of the scientists discussed.

  • Provide proper attribution to all archival and informational sources through a cohesive bibliography attached to each video.

  • Use a steady, organized workflow to effectively use my time and create the necessary videos.


Subdued, mature, but also modern and exciting in how it tells the story. Either mostly black and white, or with some dark blues as appropriate. Video and imagery should be shot in such a way to reflect the time in which the story was told. For instance, stories from the 70s would primarily use video and images from the 70s whenever possible. Stylistic decisions will revolve around the time period and location it is set when determining music.


  • Demographics

    • Age: 18-40

    • Gender: N/A

    • Location: United States predominantly.

    • Race: All

    • Education level: High School to Undergraduate Degree

  • Psychographics

    • Interests: Science, History, Social Issues, Politics.

    • Attitude: Thoughtful, empathetic, open to appreciating science. Desires to dig in and learn.

Consistent Structure and Timings (Slightly Variable)

  • 5 Seconds: It Is Not Empty logo and intro Music.

  • 15 Seconds: Luke speaks to the camera, briefly introduces this week’s subject.

  • 20 Seconds: Show case name, birth year and death year of scientist being discussed.

  • 3-4 Minutes: Variable for each video. Changes depending upon subject. Showcases, chronologically, the story of the scientist’s life and achievements.

  • 30 Seconds: Showcases when they died, and the legacy they left behind.

  • 15 Seconds: Brief credit slate, directs audience to the description for a full bibliography of sources used.


  • Archival Footage:

    • Wikicommons



    • Unsplash

    • Pexels

    • A variety of other CC or Public Domain image sources (thoroughly researched to ensure they are legitimate).

    • Youtube Audio Library, a variety of artists.

  • Actor


May 1 – Logo Created. Youtube Channel Created.

May 8 – Topic chosen. Research and script completed. Begin capturing and creating visual elements.

May 15 – After Effects opening created. First video completed and uploaded.

May 22 – Topic chosen. Research and script completed. Begin capturing and creating visual elements.

May 29 – Second video completed and uploaded.

June 5 – Topic chosen. Research and script completed. Begin capturing and creating visual elements.

June 12 – Third video completed and uploaded.

June 17 – Topic chosen. Research and script completed. Begin capturing and creating visual elements.

June 24 – Fourth video completed and uploaded.

In other words, roughly 1 week of research and pre-production and 1 week of production and post-production per each video.

Other Assets

Logo, created using Photoshop and Illustrator:

Font: Modern No. 20


Projected Costs:

  • $100 total:

    • $50 for Props

    • $50 for needed Music and After Effects Licensing

Actual Costs:

  • $0

Time Accounting

Total Time: 73.25 Hours

Pre Production: 28 Hours

  • Logo Creation, Youtube Setup, Blog Creation, Video for Website Background: 3.5 Hours

  • Research: 16.5

  • Script Preparations: 7.5

Production: 13.5 Hours

  • Archival Video Collection: 7.5

  • Intro Recording: 1

  • AE Graphics Creation: 3

Post-Production: 25.5 Hours

  • Editing, Audio Balancing, Soundtrack, Color Grading, Effects, Exporting (Intermingled): 25.5

Project Fulfillment: 6.25 Hours

  • Written Project Submission: 3 Hours

  • Video Project Submission: 3.25 Hours

Planning and Strategy (Sources and Scripts)


I collected the four bibliographies I created for my videos and published them to my site for those wanting to do further research into the people I discussed. They would span pages if I posted them all here, so here are links to the bibliographies I published to my blog. These include all sources used for each of the four videos in preparation for their creation.

Lise Meitner Video Sources

Rosalind Franklin Video Sources

George Washington Carver Video Sources

Sir M. Visvesvaraya Video Sources

Two-Column Scripts (PDFs)

Lise Meitner Script

Rosalind Franklin Script

George Washington Carver Script

Sir M. Visvesvaraya Script

Final Products

Videos were published on a bi-weekly basis, and shared to my blog. My blog functioned as my primary platform for sharing my work online and through social media.

Collateral Work

Pre-Color and Audio Mixed Video Examples

Intro to Lise Meitner

Lise Meitner Playing Piano Recreation

Intro Still

Blog built by myself with Wix. Background video recorded by myself.



download (4).png

Youtube Channel




Banner Image from Maksim Shutov on Unsplash:

Self-Evaluation and Post Mortem

Moving the Needle

When I set out to create this project, I wanted to focus primarily on the content rather than the promotion. However, all elements were created with promotion in mind, and it is something I plan to do going forward.

I created a website exclusively for my content so I wouldn’t get lost in the shuffle of peoples’ Facebook feeds, and I wanted to make sure it could be a place where people can find all information related to each of my videos. I created my videos with cohesive branding so any single video shared can work as a comparable example of the rest of the videos in the series.

The blog I created has not garnered a ton of traffic yet, as I have not started exclusively promoting it. My videos, however, have received some positive feedback. In terms of metrics, I have received two comments on them so far, but there is little else to report.

Going forward, I plan on creating a facebook page to engage with my audience via a new channel. This will greatly help with promotion beyond word of mouth. I plan on specifically marketing my blog across social media, where people can subscribe to receive an update whenever a new video drops, along with its associated bibliography.


Creative Brief Objectives and Reflections

I used my creative brief as the predominant measure of my success. I kept my audience top of mind as I created my videos, striving to have an undeniably consistent tone throughout each one. Seeing as “series” aren’t something regularly created in video classes, I wanted to work on showcasing my ability to create them. I created a consistent structure, especially at the beginning and ending of my videos, to create a sense of cohesiveness between the four works. I also sought to showcase my ability to research and create compelling works related to science.

  • Create 4 3-5 minute documentaries. Highly researched. Each focusing on the life or experiences of lesser-known scientists throughout history.

I succeeded in creating a series of 4 videos that were intensely researched. Each successfully focused on the life of an individual scientist. Sadly, my biggest failure also occurred here. My first two videos were over 5 minutes in length. This was a genuine learning experience for me. At the time, I was more focused on creating a fully rounded view of the person’s life or experience, and in the process lost sight of the length. After meeting with my mentor I agreed to focus on maintaining the 3 to 5 minute length. This forced me to tighten my research and scope, but proved beneficial as it stretched my editing skills. The final two videos clearly illustrate this shift in focus to brevity and broad stroke analysis.

  • Use archival footage and voice over to effectively communicate the accomplishments and lives of each of the scientists discussed.

I feel I successfully accomplished this task in every respect, and over time I grew more and more capable of doing this in a short period of time.

  • Provide proper attribution to all archival and informational sources through a cohesive bibliography attached to each video.

I was meticulous in this, especially when it came to my informational sources. This is because I knew creating proper attribution to my sources would be crucial when it came to fact checking. I discussed this with my mentor, and he pointed out that to be taken seriously by potential employers in scientific arenas I would need to show my capacity to do this. So, I saved each article I read, and each archival piece I used, using the research software Zotero. I then exported the bibliography and uploaded it to my website. Each video has a direct link to these sources.

  • Use a steady, organized workflow to effectively use my time and create the necessary videos.

For the first month my workflow was very clearly structured. I would take the first week to research and gather sources, and then write the script. Often these two tasks intermingled as I insured my facts were correct, or as I learned more during my process. The second week, I would record necessary footage, gather all archival footage, record the voiceover, edit, do audio mixing, and publish the video to my YouTube page.

In the final two weeks I had a series of issues come up which forced me to compress workflow. It ended up being roughly identical to the first month: First week for preparation, second week for execution. The only difference was I worked on two videos at the same time so I could export them in time to meet my creative brief goals.


Technical Assessment

Overall, I am happy with what I accomplished in this area. I feel my content grew stronger over time as I learned how to better wield Ken Burns effect, blurring, quotes, voiceover and sound effects to create compelling video using archival footage. I became more experienced in the areas of writing and research, and feel capable of performing such research to create video content for future employers.

Nonetheless, I wish I could have changed a few things.

While I learned to work with what I had, I wish I could have found higher quality archival footage. I tried to use as much creative commons and public domain archival footage as possible, and when I did opt to use things under fair use it was with intense scrutiny on my part. This led to me using a lot of video which was old and compressed. Although I learned to work with these limitations more as time went on, the lack of quality is especially evident in the first video.

Second, I wish I put more focus into the audio sound effects. This was an issue of time constraints. In my first video I put far more time into providing sound effects to establish a sense of presence. I loved the depth this provided to my video, but it was simply too time consuming to do this effectively as I continued on. Nonetheless, I incorporated audio from archival footage whenever possible, and researched the music of each time period to provide relatively accurate music choices whenever possible. Even if music from the area or period discussed couldn’t be acquired, I would instead use music which evoked that time period, or the mood of the video.

Finally, export quality was something which I had many problems with. I exported at higher quality for future videos, but the first two videos I uploaded at 720p with major compression. This exacerbated the quality issue already caused by my use of archival footage. This had to do with needing to export and reupload them due to an issue with my YouTube channel. This issue was dealt with in the next two videos.


Weakness Identification and Improvement Strategies

Weakness 1: Audio Mixing.

Audio mixing, it turns out, takes time. A lot of time, if you want to do it right. Throughout my videos I wish I would have added more depth to the audio of my videos. Often it is only made up of two or maybe 3 layers of audio. This means that sometimes the audio can be as flat as the single image on the screen. It also means those two audio layers must be perfect. If they don’t fit, or one grows too loud, it can ruin the whole video. Since I didn’t take as much time as I would like to normalize volume, there are some parts that feel rough from an audio standpoint. These points are infrequent, but I wish I had taken as much time adding layers to audio as I did strategizing video choice and effects.

To fix this, most of all, I needed to do a better job prioritizing. I was so focused on creating historical documentaries that were accurate in information, and had compelling visuals, that I didn’t properly prioritize audio. I should have spent less hours in post production and dedicated more to audio layering. In the future, I will dedicate more time to audio production. This will go a long way in making archival-focused videos feel more authentic and engaging.

Weakness 2: Cutting away excess.

As I worked on these videos, I realized my biggest weakness was knowing what to cut. This is crucial to the process of writing and structuring videos. Of course, I could do editing during the video itself, but a lot of it needs to be done ahead of time. I feel this mainly comes from rushing my scripts. Often I would write them from the start of my research, adding and removing portions as I felt was appropriate. This led to my first two videos being simply too long. I ended up talking about everything that happened in a given story or life, rather than simply hitting the important beats.

I improved greatly on this in my final two videos. I strategized my stories ahead of time, creating a series of main points to cover. This is something I will continue to do in the future. When length is a consideration, which it always is in video, you must seriously ask what really matters here? Then, you must blow away the chaff. In the future I will first create an outline of specific sections to cover, and then from there create a script. This will help me have a better idea of approximate time lengths for each section, and cut away accordingly. This will also save time in script writing, voiceover work, and  editing.